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08.10.04, tuesday night

Hi, we're the Husband & Wife Painters. "High Quality Work or Else We'll Bicker Endlessly." Someone called & asked for a bid that afternoon so Jimmy drove us to El Sobrante, dodging bad drivers on the I-80. Ride it on, baby, Hope Sandoval sang, Just like you used to do. As we scouted for rooftop graffiti, we spied a hawk, not too far away, hovering above a clutch of houses.

Winding through a neighborhood of ranch houses, we found ourselves in a place very different from Oakland. Here the sunlight burned & every house looked the same: architecturally bland with sere lawns decorated by such ornaments as gigantic chipmunks & miniature windmills. Strung to two poles on a porch, an American flag hung, printed with a face belonging to Johnny Cash or John Wayne, I couldn't tell. We were in a different country, even if the garbage truck tottering by stunk like garbage trucks from any city, San Diego or Toronto or Berkeley.

Early, we waited at the house with pink roses wilding in the front yard & mourning doves on the telephone wire. They came; we were pleasantly surprised. No harried housewife & her belligerant husband; instead, an amiable, distracted lesbian couple with kid who gave us the job starting today. The couple's little daughter was goofy, boasting of her strength as she carried paint cans & toddling about with a diaper depot pad strapped to her back.

Maybe they were relieved as well. We usually get a lot of woman callers, women who are pregnant or work at home, women who giggle at our enterprise's very domestic catchphrase.


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